The Dirty Truth About SEO

Jen Saunders

SEO. It once felt like a match made in heaven for growth-hungry businesses. It was once the talk of the digital marketing industry. It was mysterious, charming, and every brand craving some semblance of an online presence lusted over SEO the way the awkward kid in the high school debate club hungered for the cheerleading captain.

But SEO has changed. With the continued evolution of mobile and smart home technology, consumer search behavior has become an entirely different animal, and with it SEO’s effectiveness. Gone are the days when search marketers could use keywords to rank pages that people would click on to be put in touch with sales teams. Today’s buyers do thorough on-the-spot research where they seek more in depth information, read product reviews, scan customer reviews, and watch product videos.

So what have buyers done to SEO? Simply put, they made in less sexy and (for the most part) unable to provide value as a stand-alone service. Without marketing automation and an inbound strategy, SEO is a greasy 20-something Matthew McConaughey trying to pick up high school girls. It is the red headed step child. It is that once celebrated athlete that developed a beer belly and sells women’s shoes for a living. Here’s why.

SEO in Los Angeles

SEO Leaves Behind Rank Stank

In respect to its base reason for existing, SEO still works in that you can rank a web page using different keywords. But without an inbound strategy and marketing automation software to give it momentum, you may see a high CTR with a high bounce rate to follow, and that stinks because it means people aren’t buying your products. In other words, SEO alone isn’t facilitating engagement nor is it converting people. It simply stinks up the SERPs like a truck-stop toilet. And once Google gets wind of the stench, you will drop in ranking because it will be evident that users find low value in your content.

Here’s one way to look at it: If you have an online store that sells jackets, and you rank well for “leather jackets” you will likely get a ton of clicks, but most likely very few sales. However, if you rank well for a more specific keywords placed in buyer persona-focused content aimed at specific stages in the buyer’s journey that leads shoppers to educational content spoon-feeding the right information needed to make a purchasing decision, you will get significantly more conversions.

Back to our jacket store example: imagine you rank on page one of Google for “men’s leather racing jackets size M”. The people who click on this will be those interested in this type of jacket in a size medium. Your landing page can contain valuable information about buying leather racing jackets and contain a free downloadable guide on how to find the best quality leather for the money. Buyers will opt in by giving their email address, you give them the guide, and they wind up in the appropriate list where they are nurtured with more content that helps them make a purchasing decision by offering solutions to their buying pains. This is done through SEO, but only the type of SEO that ranks the necessary landing page to lead people through the workflow.

Main takeaway here: SEO is lackluster vanilla and a poor money-maker without a customized inbound strategy at its side. SEO is still a very important service, but in order to use it as a sales driver your search engine optimization has to be offered with other services through a digital marketing agency growth stack created for each businesses growth goals that dials into their buyer’s online behavior.

inbound marketing automation

SEO is Seen as an Expense and Not an Investment

It’s true; SEO is soiled by the negative view many businesses hold it to because there is no real way to see where revenue converted unless you use call tracking software. Google Analytics shows traffic channels and reveals how visitors engage with your website, but there are no details behind visitors who make a purchase (i.e where they came from and where they spent time in your website before going to the shopping cart).

Marketing automation software platforms like HubSpot captures buyer identities, shows where they came from, what they downloaded on your site, what emails they opened, and what the converting page was that lead them to make a purchase. SEO alone is very opaque, but when using it with an inbound strategy, you can track revenue and even collect valuable data on your buyers to make ongoing optimizations that will pay off big.

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À La Carte SEO is Really Digital Leprosy

If she was still alive, Mother Teresa would love SEO as a stand-alone service because there would be a lot more lepers for her to tend to. Now before I explain why, let me say there are a select few businesses that can still value from anà la carte SEO service (their industry, products and competition will dictate this). BUT most businesses will not make the most of their invested marketing dollars without incorporating the inbound methodology. After all, you can’t maintain a healthy growth projection with a boat full of holes; with marketing dollars going into ranking non-audience specific content that doesn’t convert.

Have you Hugged Your SEO Today?

Your goal is to grow your business by increasing sales and customers. Your goal is not to rank to the moon for every keyword. Without an inbound marketing strategy, your SEO sits alone, unloved, and ostracized from the party like a drunk uncle at a wedding. Give your SEO a hug; contact a certified HubSpot partner agency to see how a growth-driven inbound marketing strategy can make your SEO work like a fierce beast, convert buyers, and feel loved again.

Download Our FREE Guide on Inbound, Make SEO Work Again!

If you found value in this article we invite you to download our free guide below on Inbound Marketing. Learn how it works with SEO, and determine where some wins from this could come specific to YOUR business. Got questions? Give us a call at 800.601.2990. We would love to learn your goals and offer some further tips!
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About
Jen Saunders is the Director of SEO for WEBITMD bringing more than 15 years of search marketing experience. She spent 13 years in Europe earning her PhD while looking at lots of old neat stuff. Jen enjoys simple things, like trees, sunrises, and the delicate lull of a 16th century harpsichord. Jen enjoys meditating and studies Buddhism. She is a certified master scuba diver, dolls make her nervous, and she enjoys craft beer. Jen has two cats, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers and Lord Joffrey Gaius Pitty-Paws. They are her heirs.


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